Cognitive and Behavioural Techniques (CBT & CFT)

Performers who are under a great amount of pressure display a tendency towards self-criticism and perfectionism and often think “If I stop criticizing myself and being rigid I will not have the same results”. The question is : “Do we perform better when we are in a state of fear and stress or when we are in a state of calmness and mental clarity?” The truth is that each one of us is more motivated and feels more energy and competitive drive when he or she receives applause, incitements, compliments rather than criticism and denigration.

A negative approach puts us under even greater pressure incrementing anxiety and fear. This results in not achieving an optimal performance and being unable to take advantage of and fully expand his or her own potentialities. So why do we believe we think we have to be so hard on ourselves? The answer is because we have learnt to be like that, because someone or some experiences have taught us to behave in this way. It is as if in our hardware or brain, somebody had put a rigid and critical software that slows down mental functioning and speed. Cognitive behavioural approaches help “replace the old software with one that functions better”.
Cognitive Behavioural therapy was developed by Aaron T.Beck in the United States. CBT was founded on the assumption that people’s emotions and behaviours are influenced by the way people think and perceive events (i.e. as a challenge or as a threat). CBT helps people identify thinking errors (negative automatic thoughts, cognitive distortions and core beliefs), generating more rational, plausible and functional alternatives or interpretations. By rationalising thoughts, there is a quick decrease in the physiological activation and negative sensations. The aim is to defeat negative thoughts, increase self-esteem and constructive behaviour. CBT techniques consist of learning several exercises such as visualization, deep muscles relaxation, control breathing and thoughts and behavioural strategies.
Compassion Focused Therapy, also known as Compassionate Mind Training (CMT), developed by Paul Gilbert, seeks to help people who have experienced high levels of shame and self-criticism. These people may struggle to self-soothe, to feel safe and to be compassionate towards themselves.

According to CFT theoretical model people have 3 affective regulation systems. In people who experience high shame and self-criticism the soothing and calming system is not easily accessible and the threat system is predominant. CFT uses techniques, which aims at developing care for oneself such as warmth, understanding, safety, calmness and compassion. Compassion  is an empowering concept and does not mean self-pity, but a deeper understanding “with the heart” of the origin of his or her own difficulties and the awareness of being the only one who is responsible in making changes from now on. Research conducted on CFT reports positive neurophysiological effects and improvements on the immune system.